Small Tea Bowl with Rounded Sides and Russet Hare's Fur Markings, Song dynasty, 12th-13th century

Small Tea Bowl with Rounded Sides and Russet Hare's Fur Markings, Song dynasty, 12th-13th century. Jian ware: dark gray stoneware with dark brown glaze, the markings in iron oxide. From the Jian kilns at Jianyang, Fujian province. H. 5.9 x Diam. 10.5 cm (2 5/16 x 4 1/8 in.). Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Edmund Chi Chien Lin, 2010.459 © President and Fellows of Harvard College. 

This small tea bowl has rounded sides that rise from its small, circular footring to its circular lip, which is subtly indented just below the top. The bowl's walls are relatively thick, though they taper towards the lip; the thick walls 1) helped to keep warm the tea that originally was served in the bowl and 2) made the bowl's center of gravity relatively low which aided in keeping the bowl upright and the tea contained, should the filled bowl accidentally be bumped. The dark brown glaze, which appears black in reflected light, covers the bowl's interior and most of its exterior, stopping about one-third of the way up from the footring. The lowest portion of the bowl is unglazed, as are the footring and base. The bowl's dark gray clay body is visible in the unglazed areas; the exposed body clay assumed a dark purplish brown, or liver-colored, skin during firing. Termed "hare's fur markings", subtle russet brown streaks enliven the glaze inside and out on the upper portion of the bowl. The markings were created by dipping the lip of the bowl into iron-oxide-rich slip, once the glaze slurry had been applied and had dried or at least stabilized. The bowl was fired right side up in a saggar, standing on its footring. This is an exceptionally fine bowl of this type in terms of its shape, glaze, hare's fur markings, and condition. 

ProvenanceEdmund Lin (1928-2006; Professor, Harvard Medical School), Boston; by bequest to the Harvard Art Museum